Non Reactivity (A Doorway For Spiritual Abuse) - Teal Swan -

Non Reactivity (A Doorway For Spiritual Abuse) – Teal Swan –

there are many ways that spirituality can turn abusive spiritual beliefs can be used to justify abuse to cover up abuse and even be abusive in and of themselves I'm gonna be talking about these abusive friendly dynamics over the course of my career at length but today I'm gonna start with one and that is the abuse in the spiritual field surrounding the concept of reactivity the first thing to understand is that most people in the world and even in the spiritual field do not differentiate between a reaction and the actions that are inspired from a reaction they're lumped into the same category let me give you an example if you see a nasty comment from someone posted on your social media post you may immediately react with feelings of being hurt feeling shame flushing read feeling anger and the impulse to fight back this is a reaction if you act on the impulse by posting a mean comment back that is an action that was inspired by the reaction we need to make the distinction between reactions and actions inspired by reactions it doesn't take a genius to see that reactions can cause a lot of problems on the planet Earth for example let's say that a wife cheats on her husband he gets so jealous that's his reaction that he then murders his wife nobody's gonna look at that and be like oh that was good reactivity can lead to dangerous things and if we've been hurt in the past by people becoming reactive then it's easy for us to throw out reactivity with the bathwater and make all reactions and reactivity not okay traditional spiritual gurus have perfected a persona into the world of being individuals who either have no reactivity or who have entirely mastered their reactivity they set the standard if not only what's expected of any master or teacher but also the standard of what being a perfect human is therefore our idea of what we all strive to be and must be in order to be perfectly loved is nonreactive we imagine that in a state of non reactivity we are constantly open unconditionally loving and perfectly in control of ourselves the bottom line is if we subscribe to these ideas and face non reactivity is what we expect from ourselves as well as each other so what if I told you today that you can't actually control your initial primary reactions feelings don't exist inside of a vacuum they only arise as the result of something else this means feelings are always towards something or about to something when you came into this world you were in essence engaging in the world through primarily felt perception you came endowed with the capacity to perceive as well as reflexes one of these reflexes which is really common most people know about us the Moro reflex you see this in infants where when you hold them on their back with their hands loose they instantly react as if they are falling that reactivity is not something that the infant can actually control the nervous system is going to take over it doesn't matter what the cognitive mind is going to say or not say here's another example the child does not have to think about being abandoned or the consequences of abandonment when mom goes away it simply has a reaction to that separation and cries out for its mother for her to come back that's another example of a reaction what we are dealing with here is cause and effect can you imagine expecting a dog to not react when it's kicked can you imagine poking a CNN Emmy with the stick and expecting it not to close up can you imagine expecting a baby calf not to cry out when it loses its mother in a field unless you are disconnected and dissociated you will have a reaction to things in the world it's called being alive our reactions also happen in direct proportion to what we've already experienced in our life so it's really common to hear people talking about how someone overreacted actually there is no such thing as overreaction there's only ever reactions in direct proportion to what we've previously experienced before we do this all the time that when someone reacts in a way that we wouldn't have reacted if we were in the same place but guess what you didn't have the same experience obviously and I love using the scenario but it's really really good to use let's say that we're in the 4th of July party and there are fireworks going off if somebody is freaking out and reacting as if they're getting shot at we may go goddamn that was overreaction but what if you knew that that person was at war what if you knew that that person was reacting in direct proportion to what they were perceiving having occurred I need you to understand that there's no such thing as an overreaction your experiences become encoded in your nervous system your nervous system then reacts accordingly for this reason I want you to watch my video titled drama how to avoid drama and drama queens the most abusive hallmark of an abusive home environment usually those of us who are familiar with dysfunctional home dynamics this takes place in the home with a narcissist what will happen is that the narcissist usually will inflict some kind of injury they'll do something now the person who reacts to that something is then made the bad guy so it's not what I did it's how you reacted that's the problem a few years back I was working with a woman who grew up in this type of a dynamic with a severely abusive man now in this particular memory just to give you a picture of how this goes she was tied to a hitching post and this man who was abusing her in her childhood was forcibly raping her the force of the rape caused her to have a bloody nose when he got done raping her and he noticed the fact that she was not only crying but having a bloody nose it's not the fact that he raped her that was the problem it's the fact that she's so weak for having a bloody nose and crying I'm gonna tell you a reality of our physical universe which is not really something that most people who are spiritual want to accept we live in a universe based on cause and effect now I know that that can get highly complicated in a quantum universe but here's the thing if someone punches you hard enough in the nose it's bleeding guess what if someone sets up to punch you you're gonna flinch you're gonna feel the hit of adrenaline so you can understand the potential spiritual abuse that can take place when we make an enemy of reactivity all together I want you to picture this I want you to pretend that I walk up to you and I punch you in the nose and it starts bleeding and then I go wow something must seriously be wrong with you because your nose is bleeding right now like you need to get that handled maybe we should take you to see someone in the spiritual communities we are doing this to ourselves and to each other all the time we can't on the shame of having done something that caused a negative reaction so we immediately make the person wrong for having a negative reaction and even more wrong for any action inspired from that negative reaction and this is called shame deflection to learn more about this dynamic of shame deflection I ask you to watch my videos titled deflection the coping mechanism from hell and the number one relationship obstacle and how dissolve it if people refuse to feel their own shame they can't take responsibility this is true if someone is perpetually in the victim role to escape responsibility or if someone is doing something to hurt others and will not accept that effect and thus makes the victim the one to blame for his or her reactions I'm gonna give you a tiny and I mean infinitesimal little tiny little piece of an example of how this works in spiritual communities we expect ourselves and each other to have no reaction when someone betrays us it's just a part of us betraying us and so if you just focus on that you won't get mad back we expect ourselves and each other to have no reaction when horrible memories are triggered it's the past it's not now if we can just be in the now we won't feel those feelings we expect ourselves in each other to have no reaction when someone says something painful to us try to see them with compassion instead they wouldn't be doing it if they weren't an even worse pain we expect ourselves and each other to have no reaction when we lose our loved ones there's no death and if you feel loss you're stuck in illusion do you see how this goes yeah I can make a list 5,000 miles long about how spiritual beliefs are used to suppress reaction and to make reaction wrong they're used to shame you if you have a reaction in other words if you have a reaction you're falling short of the standard of human perfection and something is wrong with you how many times in social circles have you heard the following statements how people treat you is their Karma and how will you react is your karma or it's not what happens that's how you respond to it or how you react emotionally is your responsibility like I said it genuinely takes a freaking idiot to not see that our reactivity if it goes completely unchecked and for unaware of it specifically that can lead to some seriously damaging ends nobody's arguing with that but what I'm here to present to you today is the real danger in making an enemy of reactivity we can use these teachings to avoid looking at and owning the impact we have on others completely that can lead to a wickedly painful world one whereas if it's not bad enough that we did something that had negative impact on someone and hurt them we also make them feel like something's wrong with them for feeling bad or getting hurt or having a negative reaction when we did that thing we can use these beliefs to completely avoid seriously looking at what we're doing to other people and what we need to do differently we can use these beliefs to shame ourselves on top of our pain which creates even more reactivity aside from the obvious external world of pain we can create through doing this what I'm really concerned about is that we can create an atmosphere of such incredible toxic shame and self blame by doing this if we have this attitude that reactions are not okay we will make an enemy of our own emotions that's what will happen so as if it's not bad enough that they are occurring and guess what you can't help that what will happen is that on top of it you'll feel like something is really bad and messed up about you for that in other words every time you have a negative reaction to something you'll believe you're bad and wrong for having it or that something needs to be fixed about you if you even had the reaction therefore instead of being able to address the very valid reaction you had you will immediately unconsciously invalidate it so this is how this works you have a painful reaction all people do if you kick a dog it's not gonna feel good so there's that negative feeling if you have the judgment that it's not okay to have a reaction to something then all of that it's not okay this needs to be fixed I'm not a good person because I had that reaction slides over the top kind of like iced over water now the only way to actually deal with your reactivity which is what we need to be doing not getting away from reactivity we need to be caretaking our reactivity you can't actually get down into it if you do that instead you're resting over the ice kind of fighting with the ice and there's nothing you can do to make yourself feel better the shame will in essence suppress our reaction but the pressure of it will cause so much pain that will either explode or collapse so often when we overreact quote-unquote in an emotional crisis or have an emotional breakdown this is the tormenting process that is occurring within us these beliefs lead to bigger reactions instead of smaller ones I have to mention at this point that if this is a chronic pattern in your childhood it's a guarantee that the caretakers you had in your life couldn't own that they ever cause a negative reaction within you these were people who couldn't on their own shame so what happened when they inflicted some kind of pain that caused you to have a negative reaction they made you the problem for having the reaction they took no responsibility for causing it and instead decided the negative reaction was not could not possibly be warranted if any of you suffered from bulimia or were cutters we're diagnosed with borderline personality disorder you can think this pattern for a lot of it I know that if many of you are watching this and you've already made an enemy of reactivity then you're almost getting triggered when I'm talking because what you're thinking is oh my gosh I'm just gonna condone reactive abuse so for example if we condone reactivity all we're gonna do is say fine it's okay to just get mad and murder people revenge is fine and all of this type of highly abusive stuff is fine that's why you want to make an enemy of reactivity in the first place right because you think that's where the world is headed if you make it okay again I want to say that we have to separate out the concept of reaction from the action that that reaction inspires and stop judging reaction is not okay you've got to accept that you're going to have a reaction doesn't matter whether you want to or not and that initial reaction is going to occur at a much more primal level far below your capacity to cognitively understand something so as to stop it in the process of occurring and at that level there is no such thing as overreacting if we accept this then we meet our reactivity we have to begin to care take our reactions as if there's a real reason for the reaction a real reaction that was either caused to triggered by someone else this is the real responsibility we have is to face it as if is valid because it is if we sink into victimhood we avoid taking responsibility for caretaking our pain which might not only involve finding ways to heal and feel better but also asking a person to change the behavior towards us if we sink into the opposite which is shame for having a reaction to being hurt we also take no responsibility for caretaking our very real reaction every reaction that you have is valid and real because it's coming from a real place the question is what is that place as long as you're alive you're gonna have reactions and so is everyone else expecting yourself to read a terrible comment somebody has put on your Facebook wall and to have no reaction is super super damaging expecting yourself to lose a loved one not really feel grief definitely not for long really really abusive if we can see these initial reactions is valid in real so as to not add shame on top of them we can figure out what that reaction is telling us about our truth in the moment and about our past and resolve pain and about what we actually need in this moment we can use them to become more aware we can address them like we would address real wounds and by doing that the actions we take towards others as a result of our reactions will actually change if a trigger is to blame in a situation where you're having a reaction to something that somebody else is doing it probably isn't their fault in that moment that you're feeling the way that you're feeling but that doesn't make the way that you're feeling in the reaction you're having not okay and not valid it is absolutely valid so blaming them for the trigger isn't fair but neither is expecting yourself not to have it or telling yourself that something is sick or wrong with you because you have it or telling yourself that because this is a trigger you shouldn't have the reaction towards the new situation so let's pretend that a dog who was battered goes to a new home and that new home is super loving you don't look at the dog and say oh it shouldn't be having that reaction is ridiculous it's just a trigger even though it's in the loving home no that's gonna be a really really intense of rehabilitation that needs to take place so we're not doing this with dogs why are we doing this with each other we have the tendency of believing that if we just changed our perspective or changed our perceptions of what's occurring or changed the way we were thinking or we're enlightened enough we wouldn't have reactions in the first place can you see that this puts you at war with reactions in the first place you can't take care of something you don't think should be there in the first place you're not going to be able to meet something with compassion if you're judgmental towards it in the first place you're already pushing it away so how can you pull it close enough to explore it examine it and care take it I realize I'm beating a dead horse here but if you have a reaction and it's very real in the same way that if someone walked up to you and hit your leg with a lead pipe and a broke you wouldn't be like oh my gosh I don't know what's going wrong it couldn't possibly happen this way no actually that would be exactly an order with the reaction that we'd expect your leg to have to being hit with a metal pipe but it works the same way that emotions we have to look at the cause we have to look at what it caused us to feel in our bodies and feel emotionally and what it caused us to think we have to ask what is this letting us know about what we need we need to meet those needs and this includes communicating needs that we have to people around us action actually comes after reaction we have made an enemy of reactions because we confuse actions that are taken as a result of a reaction as a reaction we can intercept this chain from reaction to action but we need to stop expecting ourselves to intercept this chain from external event to reaction because that's just beyond us freakin futile your reaction is always legitimate so what I want you to do is to let your altering of your perceptions let your exploring of your emotions and all of those types of steps you would usually take to try to avoid reaction in the first place instead be a way of caretaking or taking care of the reaction has occurred if we want to learn to intercept the chain between reaction and action what we have to do is to stop trying to intercept the chain between action that happened and the reaction we had to it here's the thing if we're making an enemy of reactions you don't even have to say anything people can feel it in your energy field if you act like a reaction is not legitimate it will escalate the situation people will be a thousand times more likely to take an action that caused a serious impact from reaction that is treated as if it's not legitimate any reaction you have can be used as a tool to access more awareness about your personal truth and universal truth but beware of expecting yourself to not have a reaction in the first place and especially beware a feeling shame for having a reaction have a good week

32 thoughts on “Non Reactivity (A Doorway For Spiritual Abuse) – Teal Swan –

  1. Oh god… all these years in spiritual and new agey circles and beliefs, I have done exactly this to myself for years. I have also experienced a LOT of rage towards spiritual teachers who often tell the victim of abuse to bear the abuse as a result of their own karma and say nothing of the abuser who is perpetrating the acts of verbal/physical violence.

  2. The irony is that so many of these toxic positivity spiritual leaders are actually creating more negative vibrations through shaming reactivity when they in fact seem to think they are doing something right

  3. Thank you so much for your incredible insight. I’m 61 years of age and have been seeking my whole life. You are the only teacher that I have come across that teaches what you do. Your teachings have helped me tremendously. I have a whole new insight into myself and what I have gone through. Thank you for being the brave one to bring these “truths” out into the open. It breaks my heart to hear about the people who have threatened your life and that you have to live with that on a regular basis. I wish it wasn’t so. Thank you for continuing to teach in these extreme circumstances. You are a gift.

  4. I am a little bit confused. Is she saying that it is okay to work on being less reactive only after accepting our intitial reactivity as being natural and okay? So as an example, lets say someone posts mean comments on my page. At first i feel angry and sad. I accept and tend to those feelings with no judgement. And only after do i realize that those mean comments have nothing to do with me anf have everything to do with the other person. Over time i will stop reacting at all. Is this the process that she is trying to communicate?

  5. reaction (flushing upon seeing a mean comment on yt)/action inspired from reaction (posting back)

    feeling are always towarss or about smth, arise from smth, cant be born from vacuum
    there is no overreaction, only reactions proportioned by what we have experienced before
    shame deflection
    caretake your reaction,

  6. Oh my! I am 48 and i am still getting shamed for saying things as it is, or point things out. Can you imagine how relived i am :O <3 For years ive been saying "we NEED to talk a whole lot more about all the things we feel we can't talk about" – we really need to talk

  7. Yes no point blocking emotions. But becoming equanimous is helpful too rt?? V can’t control d external world but if v keep reacting, won’t v become it’s puppet? Where n how to draw d line??

  8. I agree whole heartedly. I learned during my spiritual path teachings that reactivity is reacting based in a past reality. Example: As a very young child you went to a neighbors yard and picked her flowers. She reacted by slapping you. At the time she was wearing a red dress. Years later you go to a party and find yourself being triggered by a woman in a red dress, say by being extremely rude. Then the task is not to self blame but to commit to self discovery and remember the original trauma. The key I was taught is to make the unconscious conscious so that we can be in the present reality and see that woman in the red dress for who she is instead of the filter of the past that is not relevant. I do see a difference however between this kind of reactivity and say, loss of a loved one. This kind of reactivity is about buried unconscious and therefore personal trauma. More universal trajedies such as loss of a loved one to me have a different flavor, where the truth is not necessarily buried in the past but occurs as part of being human. For both I agree the point is to honor all feelings.

  9. Teal i so much get this; foryears now i ve been thinking 'gee….i get anxious pretty quick if people insult me…..i shouldnt feel that way..' i kept thinking, looking for the Boeddha and Yeshua and enlightenment. Then came to realize that the first one is a total other 'me' it is my fight-flee animal instinct and i ve noticed that it seems i cant control this very immediate reaction. the latter can evaluate it, but there is no controling this 'primitive instinct' i venoticed. and yes its defense and yes people do say stupid things wich i consider unaware. so i dont no longer judge myself for it but keep trying to have more control (wich seems impossible! )

  10. I have recently experienced this with a teacher of Prananadi. If I didn't agree with his answer from his viewpoint of his belief belief system then it is my ego. There is a never time where he could be wrong as well.
    I initially went to so that I can understand my partner's spiritual viewpoint but over time he has caused her to see me as the enemy because she hangs on his every word and I don't. I just can't accept that his Prananadi beliefs trump all others.

  11. This was absolutely perfect! This is how I've been feeling about some of the concepts being spouted by the various "Spiritual Gurus" out there. The Human State (including all of our emotional reactions) is natural and normal. Denying any part of our nature only leads to dysfunction, imbalance and toxcity. How we act upon those reactions can only be addressed by allowing ourself to feel and accept our emotions without denial, judgement or shame. I've been feeling my reactions internally, but I've been practicing controlling my outer experience of them lately. I look placid on the outside, but I'm actually exploring my feelings towards various stimuli internally in order to address the source of those reactions. I can't do this all the time, however. At some point, I absolutely need those emotions to become visible outwardly. For example, It's such a relief to cry. To simply let those tears spill down my cheeks by accepting and feeling the pain behind them without shame or judgement is a truly freeing experience. Being accused of self-pity or playing the victim card everytime you dare to express feelings associated with intensely painful life experiences when that's absolutely essential in processing those trauma based feelings is one of the crulest things I've ever experienced. Brilliant and well said!

  12. Teal…this is something I’ve battled with my entire life and am just now (in my 40s) overcoming. I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to hear you teach this. I feel like my healing has only just begun after realizing this truth for myself. So good to know someone else out there gets it. Love you. 💋


    I think I fully understand her. I mean, from my own filters. To create a solid holistic view and call it “new”, we require to shuffle around like the pieces of a domino game and expect that the arrangement that we will create out of the pieces which we will select (and she arranges a lot of words for the sake of her own dogma) will not only decide the outcome of what will happen on that table, but the outcome beyond the rules in which the game is based on. It is like expecting to create a domino effect beyond that table even when she perfectly knows the boundaries of that table. She trust too much her logical assertions and their validity, or at least, she appear to be doing so. However, in her own parallel mental reality, she doesn’t ,and she can’t tell us that because otherwise her own rational edifice would collapse like a house of cards out of Alice in Wonderland worse nightmare. Bear this in mind, I am not criticising Teal. I am holding her words hostage, both like raw material and like a lotus blossom, to criticise myself and grow.
    And I say to her and myself, be a sharper critic of yourself than of others. You will either continuously tap yourself on your shoulders or challenge yourself to grow. Often we grow not inward, but concaved (hollowed inward). We become more toxic for the joy and also misery of others when we shield other’s criticism with solidly constructed “impossible rational rebuttal” and turn such rationality into a mission statement of our lives as if light or enlightenment were all that harmless. The sun is a t a distance from us for a “reason”, the moon too and the earth too.
    When Teal stated and I quote: 
    “When you are in an attitude of criticism there is not absolutely care or regard for the person who is on the receiving end of the information.” 
    Teal is assuming that criticism is just an “attitude” and not also a cognitive method or style of approach. In fact, critical theory and literary criticism have been part of the history of art without any of the “attitude” Teal referred to. When it comes to epistemology, for instance, criticism has nothing to do with disregarding or the caring of the person. The psychological aspect is simply not accounted for because it would be considered as an ad hominem allegation that focuses in the character of a person rather than on ideas.
    Teal has psychologised criticism in a very arbitrary way. The history of criticism is not only a psychological one, but also a cognitive one. Criticism has served the development of knowledge as a heuristic method regardless of whether it has been “constructive” criticism or “destructive” criticism. Hence, the cognitive aspect of Teal view on criticism is lacking. The same would apply to her understanding of judgement. Judgement is not only a psychological term, but also an epistemological one. When we judge we not only pass an opinion of value referring to a person, but we also pass a viewpoint of value referring to ideas.
    In another of her videos she stated and I quote:  
    “When we come into this world people don’t look at us as if we are a lotus blossom like it is their jobs to help us unfold so that they can see the mystery and the magic and the present in the gift of what we are. Instead they look at us like we are raw material that needs to be moulded. Almost like we do not have an inner essence and we know what is best for that person to become so let’s shape them into that.” 
    The lotus flower, like any flower, is exposed to the natural elements, in this case, sunlight, wind, insects and birds. To assume that the blossoming of the lotus flower is a completely unhindered process is to have a bucolic naive view on nature. Even many flowers phenotype change to blossom at different seasons to avoid birds predation of their seeds. Ants create partnership with plants and their flowers to use them as raw material to mould them in exchange of protection. In this process, the “inner essence” of the flowers or of the ants is not lost.
    But let’s ask first, how Teal Swan has shaped her ideas and viewpoints throughout her life? Second, how she has shaped the world around her with such ideas. Surely, Teal’s viewpoints have come to her as part of the process of being moulded as a raw material in her past and in her current life. However, we should ask, if Teal is promoting to let things and people blossom in their true essence, how come she has been moulding as raw material not only the ideas she has inherited from her past, but the ideas she continuously feeds on around her? Shouldn’t she let all ideas around her blossom, instead of taking them as raw material to mould them to her own beliefs? Shouldn’t she let ideas, which come to her head, blossom naturally without taking them as raw material to mould?
    Teal might fail to understand that she, the forerunner, trying to dodge the bullet of polarities, right when she is thinking she is doing so, she is accelerating her own homemade polarities by assuming that flowers blossoming and human socialization are distinct processes marked by the presence of the natural in the first one and the artificial in the second one. I don’t even dare to say that I have criticised her views, but rest assure, hers are full of inconsistencies about which she lacks complete self-awareness.

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